Unless you’ve lived under a rock covered in plastic and graffiti for the last few years, you’ve likely seen countless articles and shocking images pertaining to our ocean’s current plastic crisis flood your news feed. Thanks largely in part to social media, becoming more conscious of one’s individual impact on this planet has turned into a viral trend. And, unlike planking or dancing alongside a slow-moving car, this trend actually serves a greater purpose.
While ocean conservation efforts have been in the works for decades, only recently have we been really hard-pressed to take action as individuals, whether via pressure from our peers or from that voice inside that can no longer ignore hard facts. When an absolutely cringe-inducing video of a sea turtle with a straw lodged up its nose went viral in 2018, three years after it had been filmed by marine biologist Christine Figgener, a fierce outcry to make immediate changes was heard all around the world. Since then, a series of state and corporate plastic straw bans have taken effect, and public awareness of how single-use plastics such as cups and cutlery are killing marine life has become widespread.
Don’t panic just yet - doing your part to help out won’t require some wild major lifestyle overhaul. Just a few simple changes in how you dine in, dine out, and shop can make a real impact.
1. If you haven’t already, purchase some reusable straws. Stainless steel, glass, and metal straws work just as effectively (if not better, since they don’t puncture like plastic ones do) as the single-use straws you get while dining out. You can even purchase a collapsable metal straw to bring with you everywhere you go if using a straw is a must.
2. Bring reusable totes and shopping bags with you to the grocery store, mall, and wherever else you shop that offers single-use plastic bags with every purchase.
3. Opt for the box over the bottle. For example, if you’re shopping for laundry detergent, go for the cardboard option over the bottle. The box is far more easily recyclable.
4. Buy groceries in bulk whenever possible. Rice, nuts, cereal, trail mix, etc., can all be purchased in bulk whether you’re at the farmer’s market or grocery store.
5. Ditch plastic water bottles altogether. In the age of filtered water pitchers and sink attachments, there’s no need to buy single-use bottles. Invest in a few great reusable bottles, and the planet andyour wallet will thank you.
6. Stop buying lighters and use matches instead, or you can invest in a refillable metal lighter.
7. When ordering takeout, let whoever is taking your order know you don’t need any plastic cutlery.
8. Whenever possible, opt for fresh fruit and veggies versus buying already-cut up and pre-packaged ones.
9. Ditch your disposable razors for ones that have replaceable blades.
10. Lastly, check out Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, local yard sales, etc. before purchasing items you don’t necessarily need to buy brand new. You can find amazing deals on furniture and other household items and can skip all that wasteful packaging meant to be discarded within minutes of purchase. Your wallet will benefit as well as the ocean, and you can support your community in the process.